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Bloomington’s 2nd-largest employer lays off more amid COVID drawdown

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (WISH) — Catalent Pharma Solutions, which grew as COVID-19 vaccine was in demand, has told employees that more layoffs are coming this week.

This week’s announcement of 150 layoffs came after 400 workers were released in December. At that time, Catalent was Bloomington’s second largest employer, with 3,100 workers after the December layoffs, according to the city’s mayor.

Employees were emailed this week about the layoffs, which will be completed by Friday. An employee of the company shared the email and asked to remain anonymous. News 8 reached out to the company Thursday afternoon but did not immediately receive a response.

The email says the 150 layoffs are primarily leadership and support jobs. In addition, Catalent is withdrawing 100 vacant jobs and reassigning employees to those roles if possible.

Anibal Carlo, vice president and general manger of the Bloomington facility, sent the email. He joined the leadership team at Bloomington in March.

“As it is well known, Catalent added people and resources at an extraordinary rate during the pandemic to ensure we could meet our customer requirements,” the email says in part. “But unfortunately, we didn’t anticipate the unprecedented complexity involving in exiting the pandemic, both operationally and financially, and the difficulty of pivoting this site to non-COVID programs. Among other problems, we created an infrastructure — people and processes — that is too costly and, therefore, unsustainable.”

The email also announced a company reorganization to begin next week.

Catalent Biologics issued a statement on Thursday afternoon: “Catalent’s Bloomington facility played a critical role in producing the vaccines and therapies that protected public health during the pandemic, and it continues to produce these medicines along with many others that patients rely on every day. As the pandemic has receded, global demand for vaccines has declined sharply, leading to a range of challenges at our facility. As a result, we have needed to make a number of personnel changes in Bloomington. These changes are unfortunate but necessary to help ensure Catalent is able to continue operating in a sustainable manner. The Bloomington facility remains a critical part of Catalent’s growth plans and its global network.”

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration in March 2021 approved the Bloomington Catalent facility to make the Johnson & JohnsonJanssen COVID-19 vaccine.

About a month ago, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced that it was limiting the emergency use authorization of the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen COVID-19 vaccine to people 18 and older for whom other vaccines aren’t appropriate or accessible and those who opt for J&J because they wouldn’t otherwise get vaccinated. The change was made due to the risk of a rare and dangerous clotting condition called thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome after receiving the vaccine.

The Bloomington city government in early 2022 offered Catalent up to $44 million in tax credits.

Alex Crowley, director of Bloomington government’s Economic & Sustainable Development Department, told News 8 that the tax abatement is only in effect if Catalent meets two goals: $350 million in capital investment, and a net increase of 1,000 new jobs at an average wage of $32 per hour. They were given until the end of 2026 to meet both goals, Crowley says.

“So unless they meet both, they will not be eligible to receive the tax abatement,” Crowley told News 8 by email.

News 8 also reached out to the office of the Democratic mayor to find out if the city is providing any help amid the layoffs. After the layoffs in December, Mayor John Hamilton said in a statement that he’d continue working with the Bloomington Economic Development Corp., the Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce, and Catalent and their employees to minimize the impact on people who were laid off. 

Hamilton’s office had not replied to News 8 by Friday afternoon.

The Catalent facility is at 1300 S. Patterson Drive, which about a mile southwest of the Indiana University campus.